The Lions were ripped at draft time by many because they took Cherilus over two other players:
Jeff Otah and Brandon Albert. They traded down with KC, allowing them to draft Albert, and then passed on Otah to pick Cherilus. Those two moves prompted Carolina to move up for Otah and the run on OTs in the first round was official.
Now that his legal issue is resolved (the existence and details of which were well known and looked into before the draft), Cherilus is free to push Foster for his starting job, and appears on track to seize it before the season starts. He also made sure that his contract was done so he could get into camp on time.
As I blogged earlier, Otah missed a bunch of ifseason work due to an ankle injury, but seems to be doing fine now at panthers camp. However, the missed time with Detroit would have hurt his chances of unseating Foster. In Carolina, they let a couple of linemen go; so while there is competition, the starter spot is vacant and he is competing with career long backups. Despite this, no matter how each player does they will always be linked by the fact that one was passed over to take the other -- and they will continually be measured against one another.
Albert was more of a gamble. He was "projected" to be a LT in the NFL, even though he only played a few games there in college. However, he may not get a chance to play at all until well into this season -- he will at least miss the rest of camp, and possibly even the preseason due to what the team is calling a "sprained foot." [if he were a Lion I would make a joke about the dreaded Lisfranc, and how his career is over. Heck, guess I just did anyways.]
Once again, there is no one talking about if he was taken too high, or if he will be able to translate to a LT. Because he was picked by Carolina, rather than Detroit, where it is taken for granted they will draft well even in spite of Millen-esqe record in the quality of drafted WR to play opposite Steve Smith (who was suspended for the first two games of the season for assaulting his own defensive teammate!)
So far, it looks like Cherilus was the right choice. Only time will tell IF it is so, but early indications are good so far.
There are teams who are on the decline, teams who are rebuilding, perennial contenders tweaking their rosters, and teams that are moving in the right direction, but aren't there yet.
So far, for me the following teams seem to be on a downward slope from what past season's expectations were: St. Louis (just hunch), KC (no line), SF (There are articles now, as predicted, that JTO of almost lost us the 1st Minnesota Game fame, is pushing for a starting job with the 49ers. Considering how many times he will be sacked this season, maybe Alex Smith should be thankful, rather than resentful.), and Chicago (defense is aging, and offense is still going nowhere)
[UPDATED 1:00 am EST-- As Nubsnobber pointed out in the comments below, Chris Williams (#14, Bears) has missed 8 days of practice with a bad back, and is at least out until Sunday at the earliest. Seems that the Lions (*knocks on wood*) are having a great deal of luck this ifseason... since they would likely have taken Williams if he had fallen to them, and may nto ahve gotten K.Smith...
The Cards losing both of their starting C the day after Millen picked up the best 2 healthy guys left on the market, I also think qualifies as ranking among the smart moves the Lions have made with their signings this ifseason.
One more update: NetRat found a bank error in Lions favor, their current cap number is actually about 2.7 mil under. Thanks to NetRat for the update.]
The Lions, however, appear to be on the upswing. How far will they go? It's still the ifseason -- filmseason will show us on tape. But for now, the signs look promising -- just like the Lions' first round ROT.
Other Oline Notes: I'm still in a quandary as to who the Lions will keep. I don't think they want to go with just 3 OT, but I also don't think they want to let go of either Ramierez or Davis -- especially considering the age of Mulitalo and his recent injury history. Your thoughts? Do they short the roster elsewhere to keep 10 linemen, and leave a G and OT inactive each week? If they cut someone, who?
I don't think Davis clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad this year. They hid him on IR last year for that very reason.